It is game week! Purdue takes on Cincinnati at noon on Saturday in the Queen City as the Darrell Hazell Era gets underway. The Boilers are an underdog, but there is optimism for the program going forward.
I ask some of the co-writers for some of their thoughts going into the season and here is what they came up with:
Coach Hazel has completely changed the mindset and is reshaping the image of this team, and I'm loving every second of it. Normally around this time of year I get kind of excited about Purdue football. This year I went out and bought a VIP pass because I'm so pumped. Even though we have a new coach, who will be making decisions and not flip-flopping every second, I still think this won't be a season where we win a lot of games. I think we'll finish the season around 6-6 or 5-7. I do think we'll have one big upset, and I pray that it's against Notre Dame. I also think we'll beat IU because, well, they're not very good.
I think Akeem Hunt is going to have a big year, but I don't think he has the caliber to break or reach 1,000 yards. I think the dude will have a great season and hit around 700-800. I'm so happy that Hazel selected a quarterback, but I'm a little let down he chose Rob Henry. I loved Henry when he took the reigns in 2010 and was advocating for him throughout the whole Hope era, but I think it's time to plan for the future, which is why I wanted Austin Appleby. I trust Hazel, though, and think that Henry will do well as a dual-threat. I see Henry throwing for around 1,800 and running for 250, give or take. Two young guys I think we need to watch are Brandon Cottom and Carlos Carvajal. Cottom is a big bruiser who isn't afraid of contact and Carvajal is a freak athlete with a good frame at the tight end spot. I'm stoked for this season and can't wait to see what Hazel does with this team.
I am not as high on the team, mostly because of the tough schedule. I see Purdue going 4-8 but at least playing some solid football and being competitive in games unlike the end of the Hope era.
I see Akeem Hunt as a player that will come close to 1,000 yards, but because of the depth at running back we'll see a lot of different looks and he'll come up short. I don't think Rob Henry reaches 2,500 yards passing, but I do think he continues as a dual-threat QB and gets 2,000+ through the air and 500 yards on the ground. Overall, this is a freebie year for Coach Hazell. He could win 1 game and it wouldn't do anything to hurt his long term prospects. I think he still gets two trophies at the end of the year with the Cannon and the Bucket.
Preseason Top 25 and Big Ten rankings:
Sadly, the blogpoll is dead. SB Nation lost is major sponsor and for the first time in several seasons it will not return. It's a shame, because I am going to miss my "undefeated teams only" rule. In Memorium, here is my preseason top 25 if I had a vote, plus my rankings of the 12 Big Ten teams:
- Alabama - No team has ever won three titles in a row and for ‘bama it would be four in five years if they pull it off. They didn't deserve the title shot in 2011, but it still counts. Until proven wrong, they are the best team in the country.
- Ohio State - This is mostly a courtesy pick as the only team to go undefeated last year. The schedule is weak, but if they were to win the title that would be a 26-game winning streak overall. The last to do that was USC who won 34 in a row from 2003-2005 and Miami who also won 34 in a row from 2000-2002. If not for the questionable flag vs. OSU' Miami's streak reaches 44. That just proves it is really, really hard to keep these streaks alive.
- Oregon - The Ducks have been the best team to not win a title recently, as they are 46-7 the last four years and have played in four straight BCS bowls. Only Alabama at 49-5 has been better.
- Stanford - The Stanford-Oregon game has the potential to be the best regular season game of the year. Oregon scored at least 43 points in every game last year except for the 17-14 home loss to Stanford, which cost the Ducks the Pac-12 title and a shot at Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
- Texas A&M - It is about time we see them play some actual football, though bitter Purdue fans are surely elated we got one more year of Danny Hope instead of Kevin Sumlin.
- Georgia - An SEC team playing a tough non-conference game on the road? Is that legal when they play Clemson?
- Louisville - I am really glad we're playing Cincinnati from the AAC instead of a really good team led by Teddy Bridgewater, though Cincy is thought to be the only thing that may stop Louisville.
- Clemson - Tajh Boyd! (This is really all I know about Clemson.
- South Carolina - Jadaveon Clowney is hopefully done killing Michigan tailbacks.
- LSU - It seems wrong if I don't have LSU in the top 10 based on reputation alone.
- Oklahoma State - The Cowboys ran roughshod over Purdue the last time we saw them and I think they could be the best of a wide open big 12.
- Florida State - They have an excellent defense, which excites me because we took their linebackers coach from said defense. A freshman at QB is always dicey, however.
- Miami (FL) - I am feeling rally high that the Hurricanes return to form this year. I think they have a lot of talent and are really overlooked right now.
- Florida - Florida is my pick for first top 15 team to fall completely out of the rankings.
- Michigan - Devin Gardner seems like the real deal after the way he closed last season.
- Northwestern - I do believe in the power of Purple, however, thanks to Venric Mark and finally winning a bowl game.
- Boise State - They'll go 12-1 again. They always do.
- TCU - The Frogs O' War can stun many if they open the season with a stunning win over LSU at Jerry World.
- Oklahoma - Seems about right for them.
- Nebraska - Will the Blackshirts actually be part of a defense or will they be a speedbump like they were to Wisconsin?
- Kansas State - I think Bill Snyder is clearly a wizard, but he has come within a play of twice playing for a national title only to not make it.
- Notre Dame - They would be higher if it were not for Tommy Rees, whom no Notre Dame fan really trusts.
- Northern Illinois - These guys terrify me on September 28.
- Wisconsin - A top 25 without Wisconsin seems wrong.
- Oregon State - Always sneaky good, but always overshadowed by Oregon, who has personally denied them about 74 Rose Bowls of late.
Big Ten Picks:
- Ohio State - I think they win the division, but they won't do it undefeated. Someone gets them in a surprise game.
- Wisconsin - I have the Badgers here pretty much by default, as it can't be that hard to have running backs hand off to good backs behind a great line.
- Purdue - Yes, this is a complete homer pick, but Illinois is a mess, Indiana is Indiana, and Penn State has a ton of questions after losing a senior class of great leaders. It's not impossible.
- Indiana - Their offense is going to be really, really damn good. The defense, not so much.
- Penn State - I think this is the key year for surviving the sanctions. If they win eight games again they should come out just fine.
- Illinois - Hard to trust a team that has lost 14 conference games in a row, two of them to Danny Hope!
- Northwestern - Yes, I think they are going to steal the division that is far tougher than the Leaders. Any of four teams have a pretty solid chance.
- Michigan - I trust their defense more than I do Nebraska's, but either of them would be a good pick.
- Nebraska - All three of these teams are pretty equal.
- Michigan State - The defense is good enough to win the Big Ten. I don't trust the offense at all, especially without Le'Veon Bell.
- Minnesota - The Gophers should be respectable and have a nice, easy non-conference, but they aren't on the same level as the four teams above them.
- Iowa - Our Most Hated Rival might be only better than Illinois this year. Unfortunately, they do not play the Fighting Illini for the fifth straight season.
B1G Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller - Ohio State
B1G Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Scott - Northwestern
B1G Coach of the Year: Darrell Hazell - Purdue
B1G Championship Game: Ohio State over Northwestern